Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Sunburn 10.25.16 — As early votes pour in, Donald Trump riles up Florida supporters

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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

THE VOTE IS IN THE MAIL!

Instead of the ballot box, more Florida voters are choosing the mailbox than in 2012.

Analysis from Ryan Tyson, Associated Industries of Florida’s political guru, showed nearly 1.2 million ballots were cast as of Sunday. That’s a nearly 61 percent increase from the same point — 16 days out from Election Day — in 2012, when 742,683 ballots had been cast.

Democrats are increasing their share of ballots returned. The analysis showed Democrats returned 478,351 ballots with 16 days out, compared to 293,181 at the same point in 2012. Republicans, meanwhile, had returned 498,256 ballots, up from 332,938 at the same point four years earlier.

“So why are the votes by mail growing so much? Contrary to popular belief, we don’t anticipate that it’s an indicator of a higher than usual turnout,” wrote Tyson. “Rather, we would suggest the growth in the popularity of VBM is due to both parties’ continuing effort to move their early or election day voters forward.”

So just who exactly is voting by mail? They’re older, white and from Southwest Florida.

The analysis suggests 82 percent of the vote by mail electorate is over the age of 50; 56 percent of these voters are over 65. Millennials — voters between the ages of 18 and 34 — account for just 7 percent of these voters.

Three-quarters (76%) of the vote by mail electorate is white, 11 percent are Hispanic, and 8 percent are African America, according to Tyson’s memo. And a significant share of the vote by mail electorate hails from Southwest Florida.

One-third (33%) of the ballots have been returned from the Tampa media market, while 12 percent have come from the Fort Myers media market. Those markets will ultimately be about 24 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of the final geographic make-up of the electorate.

Don’t expect that profile to hold, though. With early voting up and running in more than four dozen counties, Tyson said he expects his analysis “will look a lot different next week as the electorate tends to get younger and less white during the second phase of voting.

AS FLORIDA EARLY VOTING BEGINS, 99% MORE LATINOES HAVE ALREADY VOTED THAN IN 2012 via Adrian Carrasquillo of BuzzFeed News — Clinton’s campaign is touting a substantial 99% increase in Latino voting in Florida compared to this point in 2012, with 133,000 Hispanics already casting their ballot in the state, as part of its major focus on getting its base to vote early in key swing states. The campaign included the figure it called “unprecedented” in its latest field report Monday… with the 133,000 votes comprising mail-in and absentee ballots. Last week, it said that in bellwether Pinellas County, which is 10% Latino, Democrats now maintain a voter registration advantage that’s increased since March.

With Latinos comprising 17% of the state’s electorate in 2012, and perhaps being a more important part of Clinton’s coalition in 2016, the numbers are very encouraging for the campaign. Early voting in other states with large Latino populations has also buoyed the campaign’s outlook. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week showed Clinton leading Trump 70% to 17% with Latinos nationally, while a Noticias Telemundo/NALEO tracking poll released Monday put the figure at 74% to 15%.

COUNTERINTUITIVE – THIS YEAR, ESPECIALLY, RESIST THE EARLY VOTING URGE via Thomas Jackson of Florida Politics – Early voting has arrived in Florida, and with it the inevitable rush to the polls. Sigh. I can’t say I fault anyone who exercises the early option, particularly this year, when the choices at the top are so unrelentingly dismal. In 2016, voting early is sort of like ripping off a bandage. You know it’s going to hurt, but it is better to do it quickly and with conviction. And then you can get on with life, knowing that no matter what happens in the last two weeks, you have done your part. That’s one way to look at it, anyway. Forgive me if I do not join you. Early voting, in all of its manifestations, strikes me as a bad idea, for a variety of reasons. Not least of these is — at the risk of lending undue support for Donald Trump — the potential for mischief increases when voting is stretched over a period of weeks.

But even if there were a 100 percent guarantee against dirty tricksters taking advantage of extended voting opportunities, I still would prefer a single Election Day … I like what it represents: the great coming together of the vast body politic for its distinguishing opportunity and obligation. I like the All-American cohesion that is lost — indeed, recklessly sacrificed — in our manic pursuit of eliminating the vigor from exercising our franchise. Supporters of convenience voting stress the idea that making the ballot box more readily available encourages unlikely participants to get in the game, thereby pushing up turnout. Except it doesn’t. Study after study, including those from the Pew Research Center to the Government Accounting Office, reports essentially the same thing: At best, early voting tends to cannibalize Election Day voting. That is, people who would have voted anyway take advantage of the early option, with no boost to the overall turnout.

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DAYS UNTIL: Election Day – 14; First organizational session – 28; Thanksgiving – 30; UF versus FSU game – 32; Premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 51; Start of 2017 Legislative Session – 133.

STATE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE — DONALD TRUMP MAY DEPRESS REPUBLICAN TURNOUT, SPELLING DISASTER FOR THE GOP via Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight — One needs to be careful about drawing too many inferences from early-voting data. There are a lot of states to look at and a lot of ways to run the numbers, and we’ve seen smart analysts trick themselves into drawing conclusions that didn’t necessarily hold up well by Election Day. But it seems fair to say the data is mostly in line with the polls. Democrats are seeing very strong early-voting numbers in Virginia and reasonably encouraging ones in North Carolina, two states where Clinton has consistently outperformed Obama in polls. They also seem set to make gains in Arizona and Colorado, where the same is true. But Democratic numbers aren’t all that good in Iowa or Ohio, where Clinton has underperformed Obama in polls. … But you can easily see how the worst-case scenario is firmly on the table for Trump and Republican down-ballot candidates, where the bottom falls out from GOP turnout. … The nightmare scenario for the GOP is that high-information Republican voters, seeing Trump imploding and not necessarily having been happy with him as their nominee in the first place, feel free to cast a protest vote at the top of the ticket. Meanwhile, lower-information Republican voters don’t turn out at all, given that Trump’s rigging rhetoric could suppress their vote and that Republicans don’t have the field operation to pull them back in. That’s how you could get a Clinton landslide like the one the ABC News poll describes, along with a Democratic Senate and possibly even — although it’s a reach — a Democratic House. … That isn’t the only scenario in play, but it’s an increasing possibility. Overall, Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency are 87 percent according to our polls-only model and 85 percent according to polls-plus.

HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MEMO DETAILS GET-OUT-THE-VOTE PLAN, ELECTION ADVANTAGES IN FLA. via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — The memo by Clinton‘s Florida state director, Simone Ward, systematically lists how the voter rolls are changing in the Democrats’ favor and how the campaign plans to get people to the polls over the next two weeks as the two campaigns blanket the state. “Democrats successfully outpaced Republicans in registering new voters, therefore expanding our electorate,” Ward wrote. “In this year alone, nearly 754,000 new voters were added to the rolls, of which 259,000 were Democrats and 206,000 Republicans — giving Democrats a seven-point advantage. In fact, Democrats have added nearly 692,000 new voters to the rolls since 2012 versus 593,000 Republicans – and the trends continue to go upward in our favor.” The voter rolls are also less white. And, polls show, a blacker and browner electorate increases the chances the state turns Democratic blue for the third presidential race in a row.

TRUMP RALLIES THOUSANDS IN TAMPA, IMPLORES THEM TO VOTE via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – At least 15,000 supporters flocked to Trump’s rally at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre … believing they are part of an anti-establishment movement that will sweep the billionaire property developer and reality TV star into the White House. Another 1,000 were not allowed into the packed venue, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office official. The Republican presidential nominee tapped into that enthusiasm, drawing raucous cheers for his frequent attacks on DClinton and telling the crowd that the polls showing her leading are wrong. “I’m asking you to dream big — remember we used to dream big and imagine all the amazing things we can do for our country,” Trump said. “Real change begins with fixing our rigged and broken system.” Trump arrived in Tampa as early voting began across most of Florida. The rally was part of a three-day campaign blitz through the state regarded as a must-win battleground. But polls have made grim reading for Trump in the last few weeks with speculation focusing not on whether he will lose but by how much.

TRUMP DECRIES ‘RIGGED SYSTEM,’ BUT SAYS FLORIDA ‘IN PRETTY GOOD SHAPE’ via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Despite his claims of a “rigged system” nationally, Trump … thinks Florida’s election system is “in pretty good shape.” On the first day of early voting in the crucial Sunshine State, part-time Palm Beach resident Trump began his day with a visit to Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market west of Boynton Beach, where he sat with about a dozen growers in front of an audience of about 100 invitees. Trump then spoke briefly to The Palm Beach Post before heading to rallies in St. Augustine and Tampa. Gov. Scott, who chairs a pro-Trump super PAC, appoints Florida’s secretary of state, who oversees the state Division of Elections. Trump was asked if he’s confident that the election in Florida will be fair. “Well, I hope so. I think so and I hope so and I believe Florida is in pretty good shape. I think a lot of other places in the country certainly aren’t,” Trump said. “But we do have a rigged system with the media the way it is and with all of the things happening. I’m just leaving the farmers and you hear what’s happening to them, they’re being decimated by the EPA. We have a rigged system. We’re in a rigged system, there’s no question about that.”

BOBBY BOWDEN STUMPS FOR TRUMP IN TAMPA via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Legendary Florida State University football coach Bowden hit the campaign trail for Trump … stressing that this was the most important election in his lifetime. “This one is important and we have got to win the dadgum thing,” he told the crowd at a Trump campaign rally in Tampa. “I normally would not be up here except for that reason.” Bowden, 86, spoke in the middle of the Trump campaign’s huge three-day push through Florida. … he will hold events in Sanford and Tallahassee [today]. Bowden said he supports Trump, in part, because he wants a larger investment in the nation’s military. “Aren’t you getting tired of these other nations embarrassing us,” said Bowden, who pointed to Russia as an example. “We have been a great nation because of our teachers, because of our doctors, because of all our people,” Bowden said. “But that could not happen without a strong military. They are the ones that defend us.”

FLORIDA CAMPAIGN MANAGER SUSIE WILES SAYS THE TRUMP SHE KNOWS IS NOT THE ONE CRITICS RIP via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times –  What’s a genteel, chamber of commerce, establishment Republican like Wiles doing on a campaign like Trump‘s? Longtime admirers of Wiles, the daughter of legendary NFL broadcaster Pat Summerall, lately have been asking themselves — and Wiles — that question a lot as she steers Trump’s tumultuous and divisive campaign in must-win Florida. “I actually tried to talk her out of it. I didn’t think it would be good for her,” University of North Florida president John Delaney said of Wiles, his chief of staff when he was mayor of Jacksonville in the 1990s. “I said, ‘Susie, I don’t think this is who you are.’ But she has an uncanny nose for the mood of the people and she saw that he was going to win” the primary, said Delaney, who is so turned off by Trump he wrote in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s name on the mail ballot he has already cast. “Bringing on Susie is one of the few smart decisions that I’ve seen the Trump campaign make this year,” said Democratic consultant Chris Hand of Jacksonville. “Frankly, if Donald were running as a Susie Wiles Republican — reasonably conservative, pro-environment, pro-investment — he might have a real chance of being elected president Nov. 8.” This is not her first candidate to challenge the political establishment. She worked for her political idols, Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan, who also bucked the GOP establishment in many ways. But they also offered warmth and optimistic views of America that could hardly be more different from Trump.

HAPPENING TODAY HILLARY CLINTON, DONALD TRUMP STILL IN FLORIDA — Clinton will kick-off a two-day campaign swing at 3:30 p.m. with a rally at Broward College, 1000 Coconut Creek Blvd. in Coconut Creek. She is scheduled to attend a fundraiser later in the day at the Pinecrest home of Chris Korge, a top Clinton supporter and fundraiser. She’s scheduled to hold public events in Hillsborough and Palm Beach County on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Donald Trump will start his day with a rally at 3 p.m. at the Orlando Sanford International Airport Million Air, 2841 Flightline Ave. in Sanford. He’ll then head to Tallahassee for an event at 6 p.m. at the Tallahassee Car Museum, 2635 Thornton Road.

— “Echoing Barack Obama, Tim Kaine tears into Marco Rubio in Miami” via Cresonia Hsieh and Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

CNN AND MORE DESCEND ON TALLAHASSEE via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – Trump likes to blast the very media that’s covering him, often with cheering approval from his supporters. He’ll have plenty of opportunity … when media from around the planet will descend on the capital city to cover his rally at the Tallahassee Automobile Museum. The city over the weekend began getting a small taste of the media attention. Richard Quest, CNN’s chief international business correspondent and anchor of CNN International’s “Quest Means Business,” has been in town taping segments about the divisive presidential race. Quest and his team went to a Florida A&M University football game and the West Tennessee Street strip to take the pulse of voters. On Monday, he interviewed students live in front of the Westcott Building at Florida State University. “What I learned was really it’s a plague on all their houses,” Quest said. “Wherever we went, people would say I’m voting for Trump or I’m voting for Clinton, but they were doing it most unenthusiastically.” Nathan Molina, student government association president at FSU, was among those interviewed by Quest. He said he was excited about the opportunity and curious about how the segment might be spun. Quest is traveling from Tallahassee to Key West over the next few days to talk to voters. He’ll be hard to miss — besides being surrounded by a camera crew, he’s traveling in a bright red convertible Ford Mustang.

— “Big numbers expected for Trump’s Tallahassee visit” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

AFRICAN-AMERICAN VOTERS MAKE CASE FOR CLINTON IN NEW AD — The Clinton campaign released a new advertisement Monday. Shot in barber shops and beauty salons, the 30-second spot features voters explaining why they are voting for Clinton in November. “I don’t want someone running the country as a business,” a woman says in the advertisement. According to the campaign, the ad will air nationally with higher concentrations in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina. Click the image below to watch the ad.

RICK SCOTT READY FOR ELECTION TO END, BUT NOT ABANDONING SINKING TRUMP via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – The governor said he had few regrets — or worries about being damaged by his ties to what polls suggest is Trump’s sinking political ship. “I think we’d all like the election to be over with,” Scott said at the state Capitol, after hosting a roundtable with teachers-of-the-year from around Florida. “I was disappointed in some of the revelations about him, but you know, look at Hillary Clinton,” he added. “Lying about emails and getting ridiculously rich off a phony foundation.” In fighting terrorism, Scott said, “He’s going to be much better at it than Hillary Clinton will be.” Scott … signed on as chairman of Rebuilding America Now, a Super PAC that has spent $17 million to help Trump, airing a couple of TV spots attacking Clinton. But when asked about what role he saw the PAC playing in helping Trump in the campaign’s homestretch, Scott sidestepped. “I’m spending most of my time being governor,” Scott said.

ADAM PUTNAM REAFFIRMS HIS SUPPORT FOR TRUMP OVER CLINTON via Jeremy Wallace of the Miami Herald – Putnam … told reporters that Trump was not his first, second or even third choice for the Republican nomination, but he won fair and square. Asked if he is going to still vote for Trump, Putnam answered: “Absent of some cataclysm, I believe that the change he’s going to bring to this nation, his underlying views and philosophies as it relates to the role of government and taxation in peoples’ lives, are preferable to Hillary Clinton’s.” Putnam supported … Jeb Bush for the GOP nomination, even campaigning with him in the early primary states. After Bush dropped out, Putnam got behind Marco Rubio. But once Trump secured the nomination, Putnam said he would vote for Trump because he was the GOP nomination. But along the way, Putnam has openly criticized Trump for “running his mouth about the most ridiculous things.”

NEW AD IN FLA. URGES VOTERS TO USE POWER TO SUPPORT UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS via Sergio Bustos of Politico Florida — A new online ad being released today in Florida is aimed at persuading those who can vote to vote for those who can’t, mainly undocumented immigrants and those who gained temporary legal status under a 2012 Obama administration executive order. The ad features an immigrant from Venezuela named Adriana, who is now a naturalized U.S. citizen and is “dedicating” her vote for her undocumented sister, Mariana. In her hands, she holds a photo of Mariana. Another Hispanic immigrant, a woman named Blanca, of Las Vegas, says she’s undocumented and a “DREAMer” but that her sister Sandra is a citizen. “Her vote is my voice,” says Blanca as she holds a photo of her sister. The ad is paid and produced by the liberal groups, For Our Future and MoveOn.org Political Action, and will appear online in Florida and later in Nevada, both swing states with large numbers of Hispanic voters. “This ad reminds voters of these impacted communities of the responsibility and power that comes with voting – not just to themselves but also for all those who can’t,” Amanda Brown, campaign director of For Our Future, said in a statement accompanying release of the ad. Click the image below to watch the ad.

BELIEVE MARCO RUBIO POST-TRUMP AT YOUR OWN RISK via Fred Hiatt of The Washington Post –Every down-ballot Republican candidate who has endorsed Trump for president, which is almost every down-ballot Republican candidate, will have to explain the stance to his or her children and grandchildren. None will have more difficulty than strong-U.S. Republicans such as Sens. John McCain … Tom Cotton … and Rubio of Florida. They have pilloried Obama for weakening the United States’ position in the world. Yet until the sexual-predator video surfaced, they all recommended a vote for someone who would do far greater damage to the United States than Obama ever could — who would destroy the alliances and moral standing they claim to champion. Even after the video, Rubio and Cotton are still on board. I’ve agreed with many (though by no means all) of these senators’ criticisms of administration policy. Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan and other zones of crisis made the world more dangerous — and forced U.S. troops to redeploy into far less favorable circumstances than they left. But as evident as Obama’s mistakes have become with time, it is even more obvious that the 2016 candidate most committed to the values these Republicans claim to cherish is Hillary Clinton. She believes in U.S. leadership and engagement on behalf of democratic allies. What explanation can there be for Rubio’s support of such a man, beyond placing party over country and self-preservation over self-respect? As he campaigns for re-election, Rubio’s muddy excuses have tended to involve the dangers of electing a Democratic president who would appoint liberal judges to the Supreme Court. But not so long ago, Rubio understood that even that awesome power is secondary. “I think the most important thing a president will ever do is provide for the national security of our country,” he said a year ago.

MICHAEL PUTNEY CALLS RUBIO’S POSITION ON DONALD TRUMP “PURE NAKED POLITICS” — Michael Putney, the host of “This Week in South Florida with Michael Putney,” railed against Rubio during a commentary on his broadcast over the weekend. The veteran newscaster criticized the Miami Republican for his continued support of Donald Trump. Rubio has said while he doesn’t agree with the Republican nominee on many issues, he plans to vote for him in November. “Rubio’s position is pure naked politics. He doesn’t want to alienate Trump voters, who he needs to beat Murphy. But are there really any Trump voters out there who fail to see Rubio’s support is just an act completely phony? Trump true believers still remember him as ‘Little Marco’ as Trump insultingly called him in the primary debates,” says Putney. “I find this sad and pathetic, Marco Rubio is a smart, talented guy who earned our respect when he first sought elected office. Now it seems he’ll do or say anything to stay in office, even swallow his pride and vote for a presidential candidate he clearly detests, all to advance his own political ambitions. How low can you go? This is it.” Click the image below to watch the clip.

FLORIDIANS FOR A STRONG MIDDLE CLASS LAUNCH AD BACKING PATRICK MURPHY — The organization launched an $800,000 ad buy that will run on broadcast and cable through Election Day in the Palm Beach market. According to the organization, the advertisement is meant to compare Rep. Murphy’s “commitment to serving Florida in a bipartisan fashion” to Sen. Marco Rubio’s “self-serving agenda.” “While Patrick Murphy will fight for Florida’s middle class families, Marco Rubio only cares about Marco Rubio,” said Ashley Walker, senior advisor to Floridians for a Strong Middle Class. “That’s why the state’s biggest newspapers have endorsed Murphy’s campaign, and it’s why he’s clearly the best choice for Florida this year.” Click the image below to watch the ad.

— “Florida papers interview Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy” via the Tallahassee Democrat

— “Patrick Murphy, Congress’s #1 male feminist, is running for Senate to protect women’s rights” via Maggie Mallon of Glamour

JIMMY BUFFETT ENCOURAGES FLORIDIANS TO VOTE NO ON SOLAR AMENDMENT, YES ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA — Jimmy Buffett released a video weighing in on two ballot amendments over the weekend. Buffett encouraged Floridians to vote no on Amendment 1, a solar power initiative, and yes on Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative. “It’s obvious what’s going on,” said Buffett in the video. “Vote no on 1.” Amendment 1 is backed by the state’s major electric companies, and outlines the rules for solar power in Florida. It would put existing law dealing with the rights of homeowners and businesses to own or lease solar equipment into the state constitution. Buffett threw his support behind the medical marijuana amendment, saying he used it for medicinal purposes after an accident in Australia. He told supporters it is a “great cure.” The proposal would allow people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. The amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other things. Both amendments need 60 percent of the vote to become law. Click the image below to watch the ad.


BROWARD FINDS NO MORE BALLOTS MISSING MARIJUANA QUESTION via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – As the counting of ballots started in Broward … election officials and backers of the statewide amendment had verified no additional ballots were missing the medical marijuana question. Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes allowed reporters and United for Care, a political committee backing Amendment 2, to observe the first 40 minutes of workers opening up the ballots at the elections warehouse in Lauderhill. They started with the Oakland Park ballots since the two verified reports of ballots missing the medical marijuana question came from that city. After watching county officials examine the Oakland Park ballots, United for Care campaign manager Ben Pollara said that he had some additional confidence that the vast majority of voters in Broward received a complete ballot containing the medical marijuana question.

BACKERS RELEASE ‘INTENT’ STATEMENT FOR MEDICAL POT AMENDMENT via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – “Voters should vote for an amendment fully understanding the intent of the drafters,” said the document … “Fostering voter understanding is the central purpose of this memo, and we do so by expressing the intent of the individuals who drafted the language.” Generally, the 2016 amendment will allow people with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician, to use medical marijuana. The amendment defines a debilitating condition as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others. The memo was written by main amendment supporter and trial lawyer John Morgan, Dean Emeritus of the University of Florida law school Jon Mills, Drug Policy Alliance legal director Tamar Todd and Amendment 2 campaign director Ben Pollara. The format of the memo is annotative, further explaining the proposed language, including “the limitations of this amendment.” For instance, the analysis says the amendment “does not affect the current statutory prohibition on the operation of a vehicle, aircraft, train, or boat while under the influence of marijuana. The Legislature may pass additional laws regarding operating motor vehicles under the influence” of medicinal marijuana.

— “Jerry Demings warns about children’s safety from marijuana edibles on Halloween” via Larry Griffin of Orlando Rising

POST TIMES’ EDITORIAL, CHARLIE CRIST CALLS FOR DCCC TO REMOVE MISLEADING AD AGAINST DAVID JOLLY via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – What started with a few Photoshopped photos combined into a 30-second spot spiraled into a hot button campaign issue as the Tampa Bay Times editorial board criticized Crist about the DCCC ad which was in heavy rotation over the last two weeks in the Tampa Bay area. “Nothing could be further from the truth, and Democrat Charlie Crist should demand that his new political party take those dishonest ads off the air,” the Times advised in the editorial. Trump and Jolly have never met — and the ads were quickly condemned by Jolly’s campaign team which demanded local stations remove the TV spot from the air immediately. The Times editorial hit Friday afternoon. By Monday, Crist had caved. “I wish I’d done it sooner,” Crist told the Times. “I was moved.” Crist’s change of heart only seemed to come after the Times’ slam. At a debate at Eckerd College earlier this month, the former Republican turned Independent turned Democrat stood firmly by the ad, claiming it was fair game under the First Amendment. The DCCC has had a heavy hand in the CD13 race, dumping over $2 million into the fight between Jolly and Crist. Crist denies receiving any help from Washington despite the DCCC’s headquarters being located there. Crist called the ad “wrong,” and seems to have had a political awakening since the Times’ called for action.

NON-SURPRISING ENDORSEMENT OF THE DAY: “Patrick Murphy Endorses Randy Perkins for CD 18”

HAPPENING THIS WEEK — TED DEUTCH CAMPAIGN HOSTS CANDIDATE MEET-AND-GREETS — The campaign is hosting a series of meet-and-greets to give voters a chance to meet with Rep. Deutch ahead of the election. Deutch will hold a meet-and-greet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at What the Pho, 2033 Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors. On Thursday, Deutch will attend an event at 6 p.m. at the Rusty Hook Tavern, 125 N. Riverside Drive in Pompano Beach.

DONATIONS TO LEGISLATION CAMPAIGNS TOP $337.4M — Legislative campaigns raised $337.4 million through Oct. 14. An analysis by Contribution Link found $254.3 million of that went to committees. Political committees received 79 percent, or $201.9 million, of the money, followed by the state party executive committees, which received $29.2 million, or 11 percent of the total sum. Affiliated committees received $13.2 million, or 5 percent of the total committee haul. The analysis showed candidates received $83.1 million. Most of that — 54 percent, or $44.6 million — went to Republican candidates. Democrats received $25 million, or 30 percent of all candidate contributions, while independent candidates received $13.5 million about 16 percent of total candidate contributions.

state-of-the-state

WHY DIDN’T PRESIDENT OBAMA ENDORSE DWIGHT BULLARD? via Florida Politics – Obama, capitalizing on high approval numbers, is endorsing dozens of state legislative candidates throughout the country, part of a significant push in the effort to flip swing districts in down-ballot races throughout Florida and across the country. But as you peruse the long list of Democrats getting presidential thumbs-up, I’m gonna leave something right here: Obama didn’t endorse Miami-area state Sen. Bullard. What gives? Perhaps the final straw was Bullard meeting with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a foreign terrorist organization – at least according to the State Department – responsible for murdering innocent Israelis in synagogues. Bullard openly admits to meeting with representatives of the Popular Front during an overseas trip in May 2016, something for which he stubbornly refuses to apologize. Making things worse, Bullard has in the past looked favorably upon dictators like Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Ayatollah Khamenei from Iran. It is definitely not the kind of thing that would make Obama warm up to your re-election campaign. Democrats are facing scores of tight battles; each of them a must-win if there is to be anything approaching an anti-Donald Trump “wave election” Nov. 8. In many cases, margins are too close to let any one race slip through the cracks. That said, Bullard drew a line that few dare cross. And now he pays the price.

LORANNE AUSLEY OPPOSES SPECIAL INTERESTS – WHILE HER PAC TAKES THEIR MONEY via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Ausley‘s recent ad bemoans “special interests” who “run our state government and control our legislators.” … “They get the benefits,” she says in a voice-over. “We get the cuts.” But campaign finance records show Ausley also has taken thousands of dollars from special interests for a political committee (PC) that she controls. Ausley, a Tallahassee attorney, opened her “Florida 2020” PC Oct. 7, 2014, about seven months before she declared her candidacy for House District 9 on May 4, 2015. She’s listed as chair; her husband, William Hollimon, is treasurer. Since then, the PC has accepted contributions from U.S. Sugar ($5,000), Disney ($10,000), and investor-owned utilities Florida Power & Light ($10,000) and TECO Energy ($5,000), records show. It also took money from the usually Democratic-friendly Florida Education Association’s political arm ($10,000) and the Republican-leaning Florida Jobs PAC ($5,000), an adjunct of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The PC’s biggest contributor? Her father, Tallahassee lawyer and former Board of Regents chair Dubose “Duby” Ausley, who gave $35,000.

HAPPENING TODAY: Democrat Gary Farmer holds a fundraiser for his campaign in Broward County’s Senate District 34. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the O Lounge, 333 East Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: Candidates in two Sarasota County legislative races are scheduled for a Nokomis Area Civic Association forum. Expected to appear are Venice Republican State Rep. Julio Gonzalez and his Democratic opponent, Manny Lopez, in House District 74. Sarasota Republican State Rep. Greg Steube and Democrat Frank Alcock are also said to appear for Senate District 23. Event begins 7 p.m. at the Nokomis Community Center, 234 Nippino Trail in Nokomis.

REPORTING BY THE NUMBERS

GOP businessman, Democrat state senator compete in Congressional District 9 race” via John Caballos of The Ledger

Winter Haven incumbent Tom Rooney faces 2 challengers for U.S. House seat” via Kevin Bouffard of The Ledger

Brad Drake, Jamey Westbrook eye Second Amendment, education” via Carey Brauer of the Panama City News-Herald

In House 24 race, rerun of ‘15 special election: Paul Renner v. Adam Morley” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal

Frank Alcock, Greg Steube in a left-versus-right battle for state Senate seat” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

***Smith, Bryan & Myers is an all-inclusive governmental relations firm located in Tallahassee. For more than three decades, SBM has been working with our clients to deliver their priorities through strategic and effective government relations consulting that has led us to become one of Tallahassee’s premier governmental relations firms today.***

STATE REACHES REMEDIATION DEAL WITH MOSAIC OVER TOXIC SINKHOLE SPILL via Florida Politics –Florida regulators announced a consent order with Mosaic Fertilizer LLC over a Polk County sinkhole that released 215 million of toxic, radioactive water into groundwater supplies. The deal provides for substantial fines if the company fails to meet its promises of remediation. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection “will hold Mosaic accountable for repairing the sinkhole, recovering all discharged process water, providing continued assurances that no off-site impacts have occurred and, if any off-site impacts do occur, ensuring that Mosaic rehabilitates the impacts,” Secretary Jon Steverson said in a written statement. “If the company does not follow the entire order, they will be fined up to $10,000 per day,” he continued. Mosaic agreed to make sure similar accidents don’t happen at its other facilities. The company one of the world’s largest producers of phosphate and potash for fertilizer. “DEP will continue to maintain strict oversight of all aspects of the response, recovery and remediation actions, including groundwater and drinking water monitoring,” Steverson said. Mosaic must put up $40 million to ensure it carries through with the remediation, off-site monitoring and any off-site rehabilitation at its New Wales facility, near Mulberry. The deal requires Mosaic to permanently seal the sinkhole and verify the seal’s effectiveness long-term; operate a recovery well to remove contaminated water from the Floridan Aquifer; install a standby well for use if the first one fails, and monitor the recovery and verify that the contamination doesn’t spread.

RICK SCOTT APPOINTS NEW COMMISSIONER TO BROWARD HEALTH BOARD via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Months after using his executive authority to remove an appointee from a South Florida hospital board, Scott filled the position …  Scott named Bev Capasso, the former senior vice president and chief executive officer of Jackson Memorial Hospital, to the North Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners. She is the only board member with health care experience. She received a nursing degree from Saint Vincent’s College of Nursing, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in health care administration from Kennedy Western University, and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Sacred Heart University. She fills a vacancy left by commissioner Darryl Wright who Scott removed from the board in March, citing malfeasance. The district – which operates as Broward Health – is the ninth-largest hospital district in the United States and one of the largest in the state. It has been operating under a corporate integrity agreement with the federal government since September when the hospital entered into a $70 million settlement agreement with the federal government regarding health care fraud.

HAPPENING TODAY – FLORIDA CABINET TO CONSIDER MAJOR LAND DEAL — Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet will meet at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet meeting room at the Capitol to discuss a variety of issues. Among other things, the Cabinet will be asked to consider spending $16.1 million on about 11,000 acres of land in Leon and Jefferson counties for conservation purposes. According to a staff report, the acquisition of the land “will contribute to the Florida Forever goals of protecting Florida’s biodiversity at the species, natural community, and landscape levels” and begin a “long-sought and permanent wildlife corridor along the St. Marks River.”

INSURERS HOPE FOR DRUG PRICE TRANSPARENCY LEGISLATION — AT A MINIMUM via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – An insurance lobbyist hopes at least to win legislation next year allowing the state to negotiate drug prices for Medicaid patients, and requiring drug companies to disclose more information about their pricing, as a means to control pharmaceutical costs. Price controls, said Paul Sanford of the Florida Insurance Council, would be a much bigger lift, and would have to happen on the national level. But requiring price transparency as a condition of doing business in Florida might be realistic within a year or two, he said. “If you really want to cut costs, you’re going to have to take some draconian steps,” Sanford said during a panel discussion on high drug costs sponsored by the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, a national group just beginning to work in Florida. “Transparency in drug pricing – I think that’s the key,” said campaign representative Christina Johnson, who chaired the talks. “When an EpiPen goes from $50 to $500, that’s the problem,” she said. “It happens overnight, without warning,” forcing patients “to make a decision between medicine and a mortgage.” Also represented on the panel were the Florida Association of Health Plans, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Elder Care Services in Tallahassee, and Tallahassee Memorial Health Care. The coalition comprises 23 organizations that provide health care in some form, including the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Neurology, the AARP, the Federation of American Hospitals, and Wal-Mart.

SLOT MACHINE DECISION COULD COME IN TIME FOR SESSION via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – It’s been nearly five months since the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments over whether to expand slot machines in the state … smart money says: Expect something by early next year. That’s because that’s when the Legislature will start drawing up the state budget, which could use the extra money that gambling bring to state coffers. And lawmakers earlier this year heard that general revenue estimates are heading downward in coming years. Meantime, related matters hang in the balance, including a federal case over whether the Seminole Tribe of Florida can continue to offer blackjack and a proposed state constitutional amendment on gambling. If the court rules favorably, it could expand slot machines to all six counties where voters passed slots referendums: Brevard, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach and Washington. That could result in the single biggest gambling expansion in the state. Opponents, such as No Casinos and former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, have said slots are illegal “lotteries” banned by the state constitution unless expressly permitted by law.

TRIAL ON HORSEMEN’S ISSUE COULD AFFECT THE FLORIDA GAMBLING LANDSCAPE via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – A trial challenging the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering’s recognition of a new horsemen’s group at Hialeah is set to begin in Tallahassee … Those close to horsemen’s issues in Florida have said the under-the-radar trial in the courtroom of Administrative Law Judge Lawrence P. Stevenson could have state and national implications. Hialeah has submitted its racing permit application listing a new horseman’s group created by Hialeah management. Though the new horsemen’s group has yet to be assembled, the Division has recognized it and issued Hialeah its racing permit for 2017. The Division is not willing to be a referee to determine if this new group is legitimate and constitutes the new majority, says William P. White. White, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Protective and Benevolent Association claims the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is evolving into a regulation entity that does not referee/arbitrate. White is due to testify before Stevenson … “With no racing commission, there is no governmental body to appeal to other than the courts,” he says. “So every time we bring some sort of issue to the Division, they say, ‘oh, it’s not for us to decide,’ we’ll get the courts to do it.” Observers, however, say the Division shouldn’t have to referee this issue. There are supposed to be signed “cards” on file that show a member has chosen to affiliate with that group. They say the Division has chosen simply to look the other way. The group replaced was the American Quarter Horse Association (Racing). AQHA has represented horsemen since Hialeah began racing Quarter Horses in 2010. The original six-year purse agreement between AQHA and Hialeah expired last year.

POLITICAL CONSULTANT NANCY TEXEIRA ARRESTED FOR BATTERY via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – … by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities say a deputy responded to a call about 1 a.m. that a woman had taken someone’s cellphone and committed battery at a gas station-bar along the county line between Manatee and Sarasota counties, near an I-75 ramp. The deputy reported that the 36-year-old Texeira “appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol” and that she denied taking a cellphone, and “would not comment about anything regarding punching the victim.” The victim, Alexander Nathan, told the deputy that Texeira had “punched him several times” and that the bartender, who was not named, had witnessed the alleged attack that occurred inside the gas station/bar … The deputy reported that he had “observed some redness” on the right side of Nathan’s face and found probable cause to believe Texeira had committed misdemeanor battery. The encounter at the gas station/bar followed a Sarasota fundraiser to benefit the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. Texeira had planned the fundraiser. A political consultant who has done fundraising work for Democrats and Republicans in the state, Texeira now does work for Innovate Florida, a political committee chaired by state Sen. Bill Galvano.

GROUP OFFERS RECOMMENDATIONS POST HURRICANE HERMINE via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat – A 10-page recovery report was crafted by a task force leadership team within Citizens for Responsible Spending, a local bipartisan group that has grown increasingly vocal in its critique of local government. The report outlines areas for improvement, from organizational structure to improved technology that uses push alerts and smartphone compatible apps. The Category 1 storm ripped through the Capital City early on the morning of Sept. 2. Former Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, task force chairman, said the purpose of the report was to offer best practices and not a chance to point fingers at what was done right or wrong. “We just hope to help provide some guidance from a group of citizens on how we think we can do this better,” he said. “This is just how we felt, how we experienced it out there in the public. And based on our experience and being around talking about this, here’s some ideas. This is as pure as it gets. This is an effort to help with no other motive at all … It’s just citizens trying to help and that’s the ultimate for me.” The report noted a need for an annual review of the County Emergency Mangement Plan. Mock drills could test its effectiveness. The group recommends hiring private utility companies in order to speed up the restoration of services instead of relying solely on government crews.

TORO WAS A BELOVED KEY DEER. THEN THE FLESH-EATING SCREWWORM INFECTED HIM via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald – On Sept. 27, with the rutting season well underway and males turning up with typical head and neck wounds from the mating ritual, [Big Pine Key resident ValeriePreziosi clicked a picture and spotted an open wound under Toro’s left antler. Sick deer had been turning up in the neighborhood with festering wounds. Staff from the refuge had even shot a suffering deer in her yard several months earlier, she said. So she called a neighbor who is a vet, worried that Toro might have a similar infection. The vet, she said, told her because the endangered animals are protected by law, there was nothing he could do. Preziosi said she called the National Key Deer Refuge and was told the small staff could euthanize suffering deer, or free trapped deer, but generally don’t disturb the wild herd. At that point, staff were already investigating the illness, officials said, but did not confirm the screwworm infestation until Sept. 30, after pathologists at the University of Florida and National Veterinary Services Lab in Iowa positively identified maggots.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA – With leaked audio detailing a possible hidden agenda, is it the end for Florida’s utility-backed solar amendment? On Trimmel Gomes’ latest episode of The Rotunda Clearwater Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala predicts Florida voters will reject the ballot initiative for being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” As polls continue to show Clinton beating Trump in Florida, Gomes explores the shifts in strategy to help down-ballot Democrats like Murphy whose fighting to unseat ubio. Also, when it comes to the environment, many of the state’s water policy programs become models for the rest of the country. Gomes hosts a panel discussion on best management practices with Drew Bartlett, DEP’s Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration and Rich Budell with the Florida Agribusiness Council.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of Tampa’s best ambassadors, Mike Griffin. Also celebrating today are Eric Conrad and good ol’ Chuck Urban.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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